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Couple dreams of starting new worshiping community in coffee shop that employs people with disabilities

Seeing in color again

By Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Laura Foote was in a “really, really dark” place until she took Espresso 101 classes; now she hopes to open a coffee shop that employs people with disabilities. Brett Foote

PITTSBURGH – When Brett Foote decided to go to Princeton Theological Seminary in the fall of 2016, his wife Laura Foote was in a “really, really dark place.” She struggled with depression — and with church and how she fit in.

“I remember talking to my mom,” she said. “Like Brett’s got this dream and vision now. I was like “Mom, I want that, like what am I doing?”

Laura and her mother, an entrepreneur, began talking about Laura’s love of coffee shops — because of the connections that happen over coffee — and her passion for working with people with disabilities, like her brother Eric.

As she spoke about what an incredible person he was, her mother looked at her and said, “Laura, why don’t you start a coffee shop and employ people affected by disability?”

“Mom,” she shot back, “because I actually don’t know anything about coffee.”

Then Brett enrolled her in a class given by a specialty coffee shop — Espresso 101.

Laura admits she was nervous, but she was determined to see if she could learn anything about coffee — which turned out to be a pivotal, life-changing moment.

“I connected with God through the craft of coffee. As I explained to Brett, I felt like I finally could see in color again.”

Laura felt God’s creativity shining again, through coffee. Here was a place where people could worship and connect with God, while coming together as a community and learning a craft.

Brett and Laura shared their story recently at a Discerning Missional Leadership (DML) assessment for potential 1001 new worshiping community leaders — and their vision and dream of housing an NWC in a coffee shop that employs people with disabilities.

Laura admits she had many doubts. But the DML assessment gave her the confidence to say to herself, “No, this is who you are. You can go for this and God is calling you to this.”

“People are our passion,” she said. “Coffee is our language, that will bring us together,”

“Like a conduit,” added Brett, who is in his final year of seminary.

“It’s not about the coffee, but it really is about the coffee. But, it’s about church too.”

“It’s about the people,” added Laura, softly, thinking about those in the disability community who will have sustainable employment, if their dream gets off the ground.

“It’s about the people,” Brett nodded. “It’s about those who will be affected (by this new ministry).”

In 2012, the 220th General Assembly of the PC(USA) declared a commitment to a churchwide movement that results in the creation of 1001 worshiping communities over the next 10 years. At a grassroots level, hundreds of diverse new worshiping communities have already formed across the nation

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